Talking to Strangers Book Cover

Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know
Publishing Year: 2019
Reading time: Quotes:

What’s inside

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know is a nonfiction work by Malcolm Gladwell. The book mainly explores miscommunication and assumptions people make while interacting with those they do not know. He strengthens his points by referring to several past incidents, for example, Sylvia Plath’s death, and the interaction between the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler. The book begins and concludes with the analysis of the Sandra Bland case. Every chapter in this book is devoted to understanding the different aspects of the problem we face involving strangers.

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Lesson 1. Introduction to Sandra Bland.

The book begins with the case of Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland was a young African-American woman. In July 2015, she drove to a little town, an hour west of Houston from Chicago, her hometown. She was to appear for a job interview at Prairie View A & M University. 


Bland had graduated from the school herself a few years ago. Her appearance was tall and striking. And her personality matched the job. She played in the marching band and belonged to the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority in college. She used to volunteer with a seniors group, and was very regular in posting brief, inspirational videos on YouTube, under the handle “Sandy Speaks”. Her videos often began with, “Good morning, my beautiful Kings and Queens.” Eventually she got the job at Prairie View. She was very happy and wanted to pursue a master’s degree in political science on the side. 


On the afternoon of July 10th, she left the university to get groceries. She made a right turn on to the highway that leads to the Prairie View campus. Bland was pulled over by a white, short dark-haired, thirty years old police officer named Brian Encinia. He was being courteous in the beginning and told her that she had failed to signal a lane change. 


He began interrogating her while Bland was answering the questions. After this, she lit a cigarette. Enicia asked her to stop smoking. And their subsequent interaction was recorded by the video camera present in Enicinia’s dashboard and has several millions of views since that day. Bland was arrested and put into jail. Three days into the incident she committed suicide in her cell. 


The case of Sandra Bland came in the middle of a bizarre interlude in American citizens’ lives. 

This interlude began in the year 2014. Michael Brown, an eighteen-year-old black man had been shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. A pack of cigars was allegedly shoplifted by him from a convenience store. 

Lesson 2. Black Lives Matter.


In subsequent years, America experienced one high-profile case after another involving police brutality against the African-American population.  Riots and protests were rising rapidly around the country. Black Lives Matter, a civil rights movement was born. 


Some of the names that have been inscribed in our memories are those of: Eric Garner, a black man in New York City who was choked to death by a group of police in suspicion of allegedly selling cigarettes; Walter Scott, a

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About the author

Malcolm Gladwell Image

Malcolm Gladwell, a renowned author and journalist, explores societal patterns and human behaviour in bestselling books like “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers.” Known for insightful storytelling, Gladwell weaves research into captiva...

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Chapter List
  • Lesson 1. Introduction to Sandra Bland.
  • Lesson 2. Black Lives Matter.
  • Lesson 3. Truth-Default Theory.
  • Lesson 4. The Holy Fool.
  • Lesson 5. Social Standing of the Prosecutor.
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In the summary of Talking to Strangers book, there are 5 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1. Introduction to Sandra Bland.
  2. Lesson 2. Black Lives Matter.
  3. Lesson 3. Truth-Default Theory.
  4. Lesson 4. The Holy Fool.
  5. Lesson 5. Social Standing of the Prosecutor.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell was published in 2019.

Once you've completed Talking to Strangers book, We suggest reading out Maybe You Should Talk to Someone as a great follow-up read.

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In the printed version of Talking to Strangers book have over 300 pages and usually takes 8-10 days to finish. However, with the Wizdom app, including its summary and audiobook, it can be completed in just 15 minutes.

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